Tag Archives: USCL

A Broken Record

After our win against LA last week, we faced Miami in the USCL Semifinals yesterday. With newly minted GM Daniel Naroditsky on Board 2, FM Yian Liou on 3, and soon to be NM Siddharth Banik on board 4, I was actually the “old man” of a talented team with hopes of winning it all. Unfortunately, we lost the match and dropped to 0-4 against the Sharks in the USCL Playoffs.

At this point, I have to ask – what is Miami doing in Western Conference anyway? Maybe they can swap with Philadelphia: at least they’re not right on the EASTERN coastline! I’m sure at least Dallas would vote for realignment at this point too …

My own game was the quickest of the match. Due to their better regular season record, Miami chose White on Boards 1 and 3, so I had Black versus GM Julio Becerra. There are a number of strong players in the league, but Becerra is by far the USCL leader in terms of wins. And with the white pieces in normal league games, he’s been incredibly strong – by my count, 21 wins, 18 draws, and only 1 loss for a 2698 FIDE performance rating against opposition with an average FIDE rating of 2507. His last loss in any tournament as White in my database was in 2011. All this is to say that while I would have liked to win, my primary goal was to at least hold the line as Black.

For the 4th time this year, I played the Winawer French, and for the second straight match, I played (or was allowed to play) the Poison Pawn Variation (full game here). This marks the 5th time I’ve played it, and amusingly, the 1st time I did was also against Becerra in the USCL (that game can be found here).

Becerra - Bhat 2013 1

(FEN: r1b1k1r1/ppq1np1Q/2n1p3/3pP3/5P2/P1p5/2P1N1PP/R1B1KB1R w KQq - 0 12)

Last week, Melik played the normal 12.Qd3 here and that is what Julio played against me back in 2008. This time though, he responded immediately with 12.Nxc3. It now seems like an obvious move, but this wasn’t always the case, and looking back at my notes for that 2008 game with Becerra, I had no mention of 12.Nxc3 in my preparation. In the past couple years though, Karjakin and Svidler have chosen it in serious games, so it has some pedigree now and I had looked at it in advance of the Melik game. I had not focused on it for Becerra though, as I had predicted some other lines from him.

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Playoffs? Playoffs.

We’re already past the first round of the USCL playoffs, but as I haven’t written about any of our prior matches, I’ll have to fill in the back-story over the next few weeks. In the meantime, SF has advanced to the Semifinals!

Like in 2011, we were facing the LA Vibe, but unlike that year, we had draw odds in the match by virtue of winning the Pacific Division pretty handily. Our lineup was youth heavy with me as the elder statesman (!) on board 1 followed by GM Daniel Naroditsky, FM Yian Liou, and Siddharth Banik.

On Board 1, I had the black pieces versus GM Melik Khachiyan (follow link to play through the whole game). Melik and I have played a few times before, and in both games with the black pieces, I chose 1…e5 (one Ruy Lopez Exchange that was drawn and one Italian Game that I won). This time around though, I decided to mix it up with the French and even more so, with the 12…d4 version of the Winawer Poison Pawn.

Khachiyan - Bhat USCL 2013 1

(FEN: R1BK1B1R/PP1N1P2/4Qp1P/2P1p3/3P4/3p1n2/2pn1qpp/1r1k1b1r)

While I’ve long played the French against 1.e4, I didn’t start out playing the Winawer and this actually marks the 4th time that I’ve played the Poisoned Pawn Variation. I started with the 3.Nc3 Nf6 lines, switching over to mostly the Winawer starting in the mid-2000s. But after becoming a GM, I went back to 1…e5 (which I played before the French), albeit with the Lopez instead of the Petroff or other lines. All this is to say that when another annotator writes something like, “Vinay Bhat is a French, in particular, a Poisoned Pawn devotee” (when annotating 1 of the now 4 Poison Pawn games I’ve played), take it with a grain of salt.

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The USCL Roundup: 2011 and all-time

The 2011 USCL season is over, with the NY Knights winning in the finals against the Chicago Blaze (both teams fielded less than optimal lineups because of tournament conflicts).

For me, the 2011 campaign was a return to chess after a full year away from OTB chess and two years away from the USCL. I got off to a great start, beating GM Melik Khachiyan when my main hope was not to embarrass myself, but my play was somewhat uneven. Some weeks I played well (that game and the game against Shulman), while on some weeks I was out of it (like against Amanov). Part of that was probably due to me not working on chess in between matches, so I never got into a groove. The games felt a lot more tiring than I remember then being, and I imagine most of that it because I’m not used to playing long chess games anymore.

One of the interesting things about this year was that in 4 of the 5 games, I played something totally new. In the first game against Khachiyan, I had played a few games from the black side of the Giouco Pianissimo (and many more from the white side). After that, though, I played a totally new line of the French (and was playing it well for a while) followed by the Nimzo a couple times and a Slav/Grunfeld hybrid against the Reti (that didn’t work out so well …).

I have played 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 in a few rated games before, but the “threat” of the Nimzo seemed to be too strong and I never actually faced 3.Nc3. Instead after 3.Nf3 or 3.g3, I played 3…d5. This year, though, both Shulman and Bercys chose 3.Nc3 against me, clearly indicating that the “threat” of the QGD was too much! My score with the Nimzo now is 2.5/3, so I haven’t done too badly there.

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I am the Bluest of Blues, Every Day a Different Way to Lose

For the first round of the playoffs, we were facing the LA Vibe. As they finished just ahead of us in the regular season, they received draw-odds while we had color choice on board 1. Taking white makes sense mostly because having the white pieces is relatively more important for GM games, while Board 4 games tend to be more of a tossup.

As an aside, with our season over, I think it’s safe to reveal a facet of the team’s strategy this year: maximize the number of whites for GMs Patrick Wolff and Jesse Kraai, and fit me in if needed. Thus, after Week 1 when I was in NY, every time we had black on board 1, I was in the lineup. Whenever we had white on board 1, I didn’t leave work early.

It’s not that I’m so great with the black pieces, but I guess I don’t show as big a differential in results by color as many other GMs. Looking at my database, my performance rating for the past handful of years is only a couple points below my average rating for that time. Given that the standard performance “boost” for white or “penalty” for black is around 35-40 rating points, I guess I have done relatively better than average with the black pieces. If I have to win, it’s not ideal, but otherwise I also don’t really mind playing with the black pieces.

So, with us having white on 1 and 3, the lineup that matched our color strategy was for all 3 GMs to finally play together with Uyanga Byambaa on board 4. I could play above Wolff, but then that’d break the color pattern, so our lineup was Wolff – Bhat – Kraai – Byambaa. As black on board 2, I faced IM Zhanibek Amanov, who’s played all of 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, and 1.Nf3 in the past few years. The full game can be seen at http://www.uschessleague.com/games/zamanovbhat11.htm.

The game started out 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2, and here I played 4…g6. This was a new move for me – I’ve normally played 4…Bg4 or 4…Bf5 setups – but I was looking for something more solid. Maybe it wasn’t the right decision, though, as the positions are often pretty dry and don’t provide too many active prospects for Black. White followed with a double fianchetto and we brought out the rest of our pieces. After 14.e3, we reached the position in the diagram below:

(FEN: r3r1k1/1p1n1pbp/1qp2np1/p2pp3/2P5/1P1PPNPP/PBQ2PB1/1R3RK1 b - - 0 14)

This is a general problem with Black’s whole setup – he isn’t really much worse at the moment, but he doesn’t have much to do while White can still improve his position. The e5/d5 center is nice but not particularly mobile, and Black’s pieces are largely stuck guarding those pawns. I had trouble coming up with a plan, and the result maybe was a bit artificial, but I think it was reasonable given the situation.

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Just Another – Ha ha ha ha – Laugher

Last year, when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series for the first time (they’d only won in their previous incarnation on the East Coast), the name of the game seemed to be “torture.” With an anemic offense and stellar pitching staff, the Giants made it a habit of making every game close. Often when it was an apparent blowout, they’d let the other team back in only to sneak out with a win in the end. This game was an (unplanned) homage to that spirit.

The full game can be replayed here (http://www.uschessleague.com/games/bercysbhat11.htm).

I saw that Bercys had played 3.Nf3 a bunch of times, but more recently he had been favoring 4.Qc2, so this didn’t come as a surprise. A welcome difference from my game with Shulman! Bercys repeated a line that he had played a few times before with 4…0-0 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Na6 7.c6.

(FEN: r1bq1rk1/pp1p1ppp/n1P1pn2/8/1bP5/2N2N2/PPQ1PPPP/R1B1KB1R b KQ - 0 7)

Morozevich introduced this move in 2008 against Ponomariov and won a miniature. He’s since played it a bunch of times with great results – 7/9 with 2900+ performance rating. Interestingly, the rest of the crowd hasn’t scored well with it – 50% and no performance rating bump for having the white pieces.

Anyways, I think there are two reasons behind the move: (1) it’s relatively new, which is already something these days;  and (2), it attempts to close the c-file as later on in the usual lines, the c4-pawn and Queen can be a bit exposed.

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Don’t Call it a Comeback

I’ve neglected this blog recently – I’ve had various ideas of what to blog about, but then I shift back into the lazy gear and don’t actually write anything. Now that I’ve played a couple games again, though, I’ll try and get back on track. (Even this post covers a match from a week ago, but I’m getting there!)

After having played in the USCL from 2005 through 2009, I skipped the 2010 season and I wasn’t particularly certain about playing this year. But with my office moving to just a couple blocks away from the Mechanics Institute and one of the regular SF GMs moving away (Josh Friedel moved to Wisconsin, opening up an extra spot), I decided to give it a go.

My first game back was going to be as black against GM Melik Khachiyan. I was pretty nervous before the game. I had played a handful of blitz games on ICC since August 2010 and no slow games, and I never executed on my grand plans to study before the USCL season. It’s one thing when you’re playing individually, but here, in addition to not wanting to embarrass myself, I didn’t want the team to lose because I missed a mate in 1.

Luckily that didn’t happen … (the whole game can be replaced here)

(FEN: r2qr1k1/bpp2pp1/p1npbn1p/4p3/4P3/1BPP1N1P/PP3PP1/R1BQRNK1 w - - 0 12)

I had expected an Exchange Ruy Lopez, but I guess Melik wanted to change things up from our last (in-person) game. Instead, he went with the Giuoco Pianissimo, and while I had some trouble recalling all the correct move orders, I did get to a position I recognized at this point. During the game, I actually thought this was how my game against Vocaturo last summer went, but it was only a marginally different move order and position. We could have transposed to that after 12.Be3 Bxb3 13.Qxb3 Qd7.

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Around the World

I’m playing my final tournament of this summer trip in Sants (Barcelona, Spain) right now. We’re through 8 rounds, and I have 6/8 with 2 more games to go. GM Maxim Rodshtein and IM-elect Orelvis Perez Mitjans are in the lead with 7/8.

I’ll recap the Poble Nou rapid tournament and Sants once I’m done playing. In the meantime, Canadian GM Mark Bluvshtein (also playing at Sants) has a chess blog at http://markbluvshtein.wordpress.com/ where he posts his game and analysis every day. GM Jon Ludvig Hammer also has a relatively new site and blog at http://gmhammer.wordpress.com/.

Finally, the US Chess League has started back up this week. The SF Mechanics got off to a nice start with a 3.5-0.5 win in the first week against the Dallas Destiny. I played the first five seasons of the USCL, but I’m taking a break this year.

The Splat! Heard ‘Round the US(CL)

Last week the SF Mechanics squared off against the Miami Sharks in the Division finals, with the winner going on to meet the winner of the New York – New Jersey match (New York ended up advancing). While the final score was 2.5-1.5 in favor of the Sharks, we weren’t really in serious danger of being in the match. With draw odds and white on boards 1 and 3, we went into the match with high hopes, but as it was, history repeated itself and for the 3rd time, we lost in the playoffs with draw odds to Miami. I say we kick them out of the Western Division!

Here are the positions from our match after 15 moves (of course, we all reached this mark at different times):

Board 1: Kraai – Becerra

On board 1, Jesse was worse against Becerra’s surprise Grunfeld. Black equalized pretty quickly in the opening, but it wasn’t too bad for White. Unfortunately, Jesse found it difficult to back up the weakening f2-f4 thrust and soon shed the e3-pawn for no compensation. He was only saved when Becerra took a draw in a winning Rook and Pawn endgame to clinch the match for Miami.

Board 2: Lugo – Bhat

On my board, I was doing alright. Lugo surprised me with the Two Knights, but after some slightly non-standard maneuvers, I had played …c6. With …d5 soon to follow, I thought I had equalized. White doesn’t really have any kingside initiative, and after the pawn exchanges on d5, White has fewer pawn islands, but he can’t get at the d5-pawn so easily and his queenside pawns are a little weak.

Board 3: Pruess – Moreno Roman

On board 3, David was pretty much lost against Moreno Roman. David likes to play the King’s Gambit (even though Fischer refuted it ages ago!), and every so often, he produces a brilliancy like he did in France a month ago against GM Bogdan Lalic (take a look at the game here). Unfortunately, this time, he was on the receiving end of a miniature, as he allowed …Qh4+ in the opening and then had to defend against a furious onslaught. I’m not sure if the position was defensible to begin with, but from the above diagram, it ended in another move after 16.Qe1 Ng3.

Board 4: Rodriguez – Liou

On board 4, Yian was keeping it together against Rodriguez. With a big time advantage and a position that was about equal, I figured we’d have to rely on our two relatively equal positions to turn into wins. Sadly, after 16.Rxh8 Bxh8 17.Nd3, Yian allowed White to favorably change the structure by playing 17…Bg6. Now 18.Nxe5 dxe5 19.g4 (19.e4 looks even better) Qh7? 20.gxf5 Bxf5 21.e4 netted White a pawn, and Rodriguez cleaned up in a nice fashion. Instead of 17…Bg6, 17…Nc6 looks quite reasonable for Black.

Thanks to a little tactic, I turned my equal position into a clearly better one:

I played 20…h5! here, and Blas took a wrong turn with 21.Nh2. After 21…Bf6, Black is hitting the b2-pawn, but more importantly, he is threatening to play 22…Be5, trapping the knight on h2. White would have no choice but to give up his g-pawn then with 23.g3, but that’s a rather important pawn. Thus, Blas played 22.Qf2, but after 22…Be5 23.Nf3 Bg3, he lost the exchange. Instead of 21.Nh2, he could have played 21.Nf2, which is a little better. Still, I think Black’s position is better after 21…Bf6 22.c3 d4!. I ended up winning this game, but the finish of this game took place after the match was already put away by Miami.

So, as has been the case most years except for 2006 (when we won it all), we wait for next year. I think the team could have done better this season, but we did alright given the fact we were piecing together a lineup for pretty much every match.

From a personal standpoint, I was satisfied with my play. I lost my first two games of the year (the game against Stripunsky was a bad one, but the game against Barcenilla was pretty good and I should have won that one), but then scored 3.5/4 the rest of the way. Thanks to the 2 losses in 6 games, this was the first time in 5 years that my performance rating in the league was below 2550 FIDE. I clocked in at 2495 FIDE, marginally above my 2492 FIDE rating average for the season. Team captain John Donaldson has recapped the team’s performances in more detail at the team blog.

The finals match is scheduled for December 7th, and features Miami and New York. My guess is that New York will carry the day. With a double-GM lineup and then the underrated (for the league) Yaacov Norowitz on board 4, they seem to have the more dangerous lineup. Still, Miami has scored some big upsets themselves to get to the finals, so it won’t be an easy match.

Me Win Pretty One Day

Last night the SF Mechanics faced off against the Arizona Scorpions in the Western Division quarterfinals. As the 2nd place finishers during the regular season, we had draw odds (meaning we advance on a 2-2 tie) while they had choice of color on boards 1 and 3.

We had a topsy-turvy match against them earlier in the regular season (which they won, 2.5-1.5), but this time, we controlled the tempo from the start.

I was white on board 2 against IM-elect Daniel Rensch. We’ve played 3 times over the past 5 years, but I had black in all those games (with 2 draws and 1 loss). I think this was his first appearance on board 2 in the USCL, but the Scorpions probably wanted to get a master on board 4 to deal with Yian Liou, our underrated anchor.

Playing a Queen’s Indian, Danny went astray pretty quickly and chose a line that I don’t think is particularly good for Black (the full game can be replayed here):

Bhat - Rensch 1

Instead of the normal 8…c6, which commits White to a real pawn sacrifice, Black played 8…Ne4. After 9.cxd5 Bxh4 10.Bxe4 Bf6, Black is stuck with a worse pawn structure and a bad bishop on b7. This is similar to a line after 7.Re1 (instead of the 7.d5 that I played) that goes 7…c5 8.d5 exd5 9.Nh4 Ne4 10.cxd5 Bxh4 11.Bxe4 Bf6 – in this structure, though, Black’s c-pawn is on c5 already, so what he has is a slightly odd Benoni structure with his bishop on b7. It’s maybe not the best line against 7.Re1, but it is certainly quite playable.

Anyways, in the game, we reached the following position after 16.Bg2:

Bhat - Rensch 2

White has two main threats: one is 17.Ne4, exploiting the weakened kingside dark squares, while the other is b2-b4 at some point, sidelining the knight on a6. I think White has a big positional plus, for example, 17…Qe5 (not 17…Qe7 18.d6!, winning a lot of material) 18.Rad1, and Black is going to struggle to activate his minor pieces or deal with White’s central pawn roller with e4 and f4.

However, Danny may have missed the strength of Ne4 as he played 16…c5, trying to fix his queenside pieces and structure. After 17.Ne4 Qe5 18.f4 Qd4+ 19.e3! Qxe3+ 20.Kh1, Black has no good way of dealing with the knight hops to d6 and f6, and so he’s forced to give up the exchange with 20…Rxe4.

With relatively equal positions on the other boards at this point, this put a lot of pressure on the other Arizona players to try and make something of nothing, as they had to score 2.5 to advance. Danya’s game on board 3 was the only one I thought had decent chances of being decisive, and in the end, that was the first game to finish – Danya outplayed Adamson in a complicated position in mutual time pressure.

Meanwhile, I was doing my best to screw things up. Instead of playing for checkmate with 33.Qxh7, I played 33.Rxd5 Bxd5 34.Qxd5. I was now up a piece for a couple pawns, which was completely winning, but like a complete idiot, I botched the endgame in epic fashion.

Bhat - Rensch 3

In the above position, I played 46.g4??, after which it’s Black who is winning! After 46…d3 47.b3, instead of 47…cxb3??, Black can win with 47…Kd4!. I only realized this after I played 47.b3. After 47…Kd4 48.bxc4 b3, Black has 3 passed pawns, and White’s king and bishop can’t hold them all off.

Instead of 46.g4??, though, White is winning with 46.gxf4+ Kxf4 47.Bd5. The pawns are picked up after 47…c3+ 48.bxc3 dxc3+ 49.Kd3 Kg3 50.Bb3 Kxh4 51.Kc4. White picks up all the queenside pawns and gives his bishop up for Black’s h-pawn. That was my original plan, but then I saw the b3 idea, and I figured that was even simpler. Oops. Luckily for me, Rensch didn’t spot the …Kd4 idea, although it probably wouldn’t have made a difference for the overall result.

Ramirez and Wolff were exchanging draw offers on board 1 – Wolff was playing on a computer without the sound on, and so he didn’t hear the draw offers, and ICC doesn’t show the move number for the draw offer (not sure why they don’t implement this simple change), and so he kept noticing the draw offers too late. Meanwhile, Yian ended up winning the drawn endgame on board 4, so we ended up with a big 3.5-0.5 victory.

The other Western quarterfinal was a massacre, as Miami beat Seattle 3.5-0.5. GM Julio Becerra slaughtered GM Hikaru Nakamura on board 1 in 12 moves (12 moves!!!) – despite only starting 15 minutes before us, that game was essentially over before we had even played 10 moves. Here’s the final position in which Nakamura resigned:

Becerra - Nakamura

That’s nasty.

Thus, next week we face off against the Sharks. While we’ve generally done well against them in the regular season, we are 0-2 against them in the playoffs (they eliminated us in 2005 and 2007 by a 2.5-1.5 score in each match). Hopefully the third time is the charm!

Booking Our Ticket for the Playoffs – Part 2 of a Weeks 8 and 9 Recap in the USCL

On Monday, the SF Mechanics faced off against the Tennessee Tempo. The Tempo have 2 GMs on their roster (Jaan Ehlvest and Alex Shabalov), but I guess neither one was available for this match, and as a result, the Tempo lineup had a much lower average rating than normal. Still, the games aren’t played on paper, and even though we outrated them by almost 150 USCF points at the moment, it was not an easy match.

My own game was the first to finish. I had the black pieces against FM Todd Andrews, who I last faced in the 2008 USCL season (see the post and my annotations here). In that one, Andrews played 1.d4 and the game went into a Semi-Slav. This time around, he played 1.e4, and the game plodded along the normal Closed Lopez lines. The full game can be seen here.

Andrews - Bhat 2009 1

Instead of my usual Graf Variation of the Chigorin (with 9…Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7), I played 9…Nd7 10.d4 Bf6, to get to the position above. I’m not quite sure what this is called, but I’ve seen it labeled as the Karpov System in some places, so I’ll go with that. I have played it before, against GMs Friedel and Becerra, but it’s not my main line of defense in the Lopez. Andrews may have been a bit surprised by it and responded with 11.Qd3!? in the above position. White’s dilemma is that the d4-pawn is under serious pressure, so the usual maneuver of Nb1-d2-f1 isn’t available just yet. If White doesn’t want to commit to d4-d5 just yet, then he can either go with 11.a4 (the main line), 11.a3 (Becerra’s choice against me), and 11.Be3 (guarding the pawn, but allowing …Na5 and …Nc4 with tempo). Andrews’ Queen move tries to solve that d4-pawn problem in a novel fashion. I decided to take the game into more traditional Chigorin waters with 11…Na5 12.Bc2 c5 13.d5. After some maneuvers, we reached the following position:

Andrews - Bhat 2009 2

White has just played 17.Qd3-d1, getting the queen out of the way of …c5-c4 advances while waiting to see what Black does. I decided to go with 17…a5, avoiding the (more) natural 17…c4 because after 18.Be3, Black doesn’t have the c4-square for his knight. After 18…Nc5 19.Qd2 then, White is ready to play Bh6 and try and make some inroads on the kingside. However, after 17…a5, 18.Be3 (or 18.Bd2) can be met quite easily with 18…Nc4, when White’s best would be admit he has nothing and retreat with 19.Bc1. I kept with my plan of avoiding …c4 to get to the following position:

Andrews - Bhat 2009 3

I just played 19…Bc8-d7, developing the bishop and guarding the potentially weak b5-pawn. At this point, White should really be trying to claim some squares. White played 20.Ng4?, which in a way is already the decisive mistake. Strange to say that, but after 20…Qh4!, Black is threatening 21…f5 (now the h6-square is under Black’s control). The game continued 21.Ne3 c4!, with a  clear advantage to Black. It’s a bit odd to have a c4-b5-a4 pawn structure, but Black has now staked out serious territory on the queenside. The knights and Bc2 are stuck preventing …f5, but this leaves the rest of White’s queenside without any prospects. White tried 22.Qf3 Nc5, but felt that he had to play 23.a3, irrevocably weakening the b3-square. I was planning to play …a3 myself if given the chance, since after 24.bxa3, White’s queenside both weak and immobilized. The bishop on c1 can’t move anywhere good without losing the a3-pawn (and the rest of his queenside would be very weak). Thus, Black has a free hand to play …Nb6-c8-e7, supporting the …f5 advance.

Instead of 20.Ng4, White had to play 20.b3, taking the c4-square and some queenside space before it’s too late. After 20…axb3 21.axb3, Black has the a-file, but it’s not especially amazing at the moment. Meanwhile …c4 can be met with b4, keeping Black’s knights from any nice central squares.

The game after 20.Ng4 Qh4! 21.Ne3 c4 didn’t go particularly well for White, as he was powerless to stop …f5. I slowly built up the advance and diverted all my pieces to the kingside, and once that side of the board was opened, the curtain fell pretty quickly.

As for the other games, on board 3, Danya was pretty much always a bit better, but not quite enough to win the game. On board 4, though, we thought we had a good matchup. However, David Justice took out the higher-rated Yian Liou in a pretty solid effort to bring things to a tie at 1.5 points apiece.

That meant it was all down to GM Patrick Wolff on board 1 against IM Ron Burnett. Burnett isn’t so high rated now, but he’s been a solid player for a long time. He was at least equal for most of the game, but as time pressure loomed, he fell victim to some nice knight hops:

Wolff - Burnett

White just played 33.Nc6-b4, aiming for the hole on d5. After 33…Re5 34.Nd5, Black blundered with 34…Qc5?. Wolff quickly responded with 35.Rxg6+! fxg6 36.Nf6+, forking king and rook. After 37.Nxd7, White was forking queen and rook to go up an exchange! Wolff finished the game off to take us to a 2.5 – 1.5 match victory.

Special thanks to Payam for bringing drinks and pastries to the match for us! After watching the NJ Knockouts sweep a powerful Boston team with the help of some donuts, I figure we could do worse than to copy them.